Felt Estate Operations Director Patty Meyer had to wipe the tears from her eyes as she stood on stage Thursday night, July 27, 2023, at the Carriage House Stage, 6595 138th Ave. in Laketown Township. She closed out the wildly popular summer concert season but also acknowledged her upcoming retirement after more than two decades of restoring the 1920s mansion and sprawling duneland estate.
“This mansion is restored because of you,” Meyer said pointing to the hundreds of people in the crowd who rose from their blankets and lawn chairs to give her a standing ovation.
Funds from the musical events go to preserving the estate.
Meyer’s daughter, Jill, told the story of how Meyer and her husband stumbled on the dilapidated mansion one day and decided it was a place worth saving.
“My mom saw restoration,” Jill said, where others saw only decay and ruin. “This woman dared to pursue a dream.”
The two stood together on stage.
“Mom, we’re proud of you and we love you,” Jill said.
Meyer thanked her family, many of whom were in the crowd, the volunteers and township officials who worked to save the estate.
She also pointed out the sponsors of this year’s concerts for their support — Fenn Valley Vineyard and Wine Cellar, Dickinson Wright PLLC, ProTemp Refrigeration, Heating, Air Conditioning Professionals and New Holland Brewing Co.
Even before the show began, Meyer walked among the crowd with ease, shaking hands, hugging supporters and sharing the history of the estate.
The three-story mansion at 6597 138th Ave. was built between 1925-1928 by Dorr Felt, a self-made millionaire who invented the Comptometer, an early calculator. After Felt and his wife passed away, the St. Augustine Seminary purchased the mansion and grounds. In the 1970s, the state bought the land for a prison and police post.
The prison closed in 1992 and the police post relocated. Laketown Township purchased the land and in 2002, Meyer and other volunteers began restoring the mansion.
The facility is now used by the community not only for concerts but for events such as guided and self-guided tours, a winter festival complete with decorated Christmas trees in every room and is rented out for weddings and other celebrations.
Meyer will give her final guided tour of the mansion from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10.
Tickets are $40 and are available at www.eventbrite.com. Search for “The Last Hurrah – Patty’s Final Tour.” All proceeds for this event go toward the ongoing restoration of the Felt Estate.
Meyer’s stories of restoration include encounters with ghosts, encounters with wild animals, and, most importantly, encounters with people who love history and the arts.
The Friends of the Felt Estate, the group that oversees the mansion, is in the process of finding a replacement for Meyer.
After introducing the night’s entertainment and the band Bucket O’ Maybes settled into its first set, Meyer sat down with family in the crowd and watched as people sang along and danced to the music.
For more photos of the final concert of the season, visit Laketown Township on Facebook.
For more on the Felt Estate, visit here.